BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Riwai-Couch and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2014-067

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Melanie Riwai-Couch
MediaWorks TV Ltd
TV3 # 4

Summary [This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The opening scenes of the movie Wanted included a brief sex scene involving a clothed couple. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that this constituted ‘strong’ adult content broadcast too close to the Adults Only 8.30pm watershed. The scene was very brief, and the couple was clothed and only shown from the shoulders up.

Not Upheld: Children’s Interests


[1]  The opening minutes of the movie Wanted included a sex scene of five seconds’ duration involving a clothed couple. The movie was broadcast at 8.30pm on Monday 12 May 2014 on TV3.

[2]  Melanie Riwai-Couch made a formal complaint to MediaWorks TV Ltd (MediaWorks), alleging that the sex scene constituted ‘strong adult material’ that screened too close to the 8.30pm Adults Only watershed.

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the children’s interests standard as set out in the Free-To-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

[4]  The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Did the broadcaster adequately consider children’s interests?

[5]  The children’s interests standard (Standard 9) requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers during their normally accepted viewing times – usually up to 8.30pm. Guideline 9b to Standard 9 states that when scheduling AO material to commence at 8.30pm, broadcasters should ensure that strong adult material is not shown soon after the watershed.

[6]  The sex scene subject to complaint occurred about 3 minutes into the movie, accompanying the main character’s narration explaining the premise of the film. He said, ‘I have a girlfriend whom I neither manage or service. That’s my best friend Barry fucking her on an Ikea kitchen table I picked up for a really good price.’ As he said this, two brief shots totalling 5 seconds showed the head and shoulders of a clothed couple having sex.

[7]  Ms Riwai-Couch considered this constituted ‘strong adult material’ and that it screened too close to 8.30pm. She referred to two previous complaints she made to the Authority which were upheld under guideline 9b.1

[8]  MediaWorks said that the movie had been edited to reduce the duration and level of explicitness of the sex scene, in addition to ‘cuts to the violence and strong language that preceded it’. It said that the scene in question ‘could not be edited out completely because it was important to the storyline at the end of the film whereby the main character’s girlfriend gets her come-uppance for being unfaithful to him’. The broadcaster maintained that children’s interests had been adequately considered by rating the programme AO and by screening a visual and verbal warning, which said:

This film is rated adults only and is recommended for a mature audience. It contains violence that may disturb and language and sexual material which may offend some people.

[9]  The aim of Guideline 9b is to ensure that ‘strong’ adult content does not feature within close proximity to the watershed, recognising that some care is needed during the transition between the PGR time-band which is suitable for supervised children, and AO content which is not.

[10]  That said, Adults Only content is permitted from 8.30pm onwards. This movie was classified AO and screened during the AO time-band. It is reasonable to expect that AO programming will contain AO material, which may include coarse language, sexual material, nudity or violence. An explicit warning was given before the movie for ‘violence that may disturb and language and sexual material which may offend’.

[11]  While we accept the sex scene was AO content, guideline 9b does not require the broadcaster to eliminate all AO content close to 8.30pm – only strong AO content. This scene did not in our view amount to strong adult material which warranted a restriction to a later time. The scene was very brief, being only 5 seconds in length, the couple was clothed, and they were shown only from the shoulders up. No nudity or explicit sexual content was shown.

[12]  The previous cases referred to by Ms Riwai-Couch, which were upheld as a breach of this guideline, related to scenes which contained a greater level of explicit sexual content. In one case, a couple was shown having sex, with a bare-breasted woman moving back and forth while straddling the man. In the other, a woman was on top of a man in bed, her breasts visible, and she could be heard moaning. The scene in Wanted was not, in our view, in the same category as these other scenes, which were more prolonged and graphic, and contained nudity.

[13]  Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the Wanted scene constituted ‘strong adult material’ broadcast too close to the watershed, and that the broadcaster failed to adequately consider children’s interests.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Peter Radich
21 August 2014


The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1            Melanie Riwai-Couch’s formal complaint – 12 May 2014

2            MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 10 June 2014

3            Ms Riwai-Couch’s referral to the Authority – 10 June 2014

4            MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 12 June 2014

1Riwai-Couch and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-053 and Riwai-Couch and TVWorks Ltd, Decision No. 2012-014